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Jar or The Grill on the Alley?

Where should we go for my fiance's birthday dinner on Friday night with his mom? Considering Jar or the Grill on the Alley, but am open to other suggestions as well. Anywhere from West Hollywood to Santa Monica is optimal, but nothing too crazy expensive (under $30 per entree) and probably not Italian (since we are going to Il Grano for his actual birthday on Wednesday). Thanks for all the comments as always!

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  1. Never been to Grill on the Alley, but LOVE Jar. You can't go wrong there, been there many times.

    1. Better check the menus. Some of the steaks at Jar are going to exceed that price point, and other dishes, such as the acclaimed short ribs (or potroast) come very close. And some of the highlights there are the side potato and vegetable dishes, which are ordered separately and obviously add to the cost. Not saying Jar isn't worth it -- it is excellent -- but wanted to save you from some sticker shock. Check their website, I recall that prices are mentioned on their online menus, and if you are really concerned call to verify that they haven't changed. The Grill on the Alley's website does not post prices with its menu items -- take that for what its worth.

      For very upscale food at moderate prices (almost all entrees between $18 and $20 including sides, a ribeye for $26) with excellent service and a nice vibe (darker and a bit more quiet than Jar) and even free parking, check out Nook Bistro in W.L.A.

      1. i agree with nosh, you may find both too expensive. of the two, the grill is definitely the more $$$. the two have different vibes. the grill is more formal and "impressive" in the classic sense. i find jar a lot more fun and room is very cool. while nook has very good food, it is not in the same league for ambience. so if that matters i'd take that into consideration. comme ca offers enough variety on the menu to have great food, good ambience and meet your price range. literati ll could be an option, but the food isn't as good as your first two choices.

        4 Replies
        1. re: jay 1

          I am not a big fan of Literati 2 -- the prices are significantly higher than Nook, portions are smaller, I don't like the food as much, and they nickle and dime you.

          I'll throw in a suggestion for Orris on Sawtelle. Japanese/French fusion small plates, many of them unique, delicious, and innovative. Only downside is they don't take reservations. Wilshire is a current darling of this board, especially for their patio, so you may want to check their website and online menu for prices. Musha in Santa Monica is another small-plate restaurant that is highly regarded. If wine is a central focus, Upstairs 2 above the wine shop on Cotner just north of Pico might work.

          1. re: nosh

            Orris or Jar, the latter being more expensive... Both can be very loud

            1. re: nosh

              Disagree with Orris. Not bad, just blah.

              1. re: J.L.

                I've taken people there who thought Orris the best meal in LA. I wouldn't concur but i think blah doesn't do it justice. dishes such as their grilled heart of romaine with parmesan, clams in broth, flattened beets and taleggio are all phenomenal.

          2. Thank you for all the great suggestions! Will definitely look into Nook and Orris. I love Comme Ca as well as Upstairs 2 (which we've been to multiple times) and we went to Wilshire for his mom's birthday a few weeks ago.

            1. You might want to try Hatfields or Grace...though they are probably considered "mid city" or "fairfax district" they can both be in that price range.

              Another great option that is completely within that price range is AMMO. it is on Highland just north of Santa Monica. So a bit out of the way based on your logistics, but well worth it. They've got a new chef from l'bernadine and have received rave reviews...plus after eating there a few times the past month i can say the food is consistently delicious.

              As for Grill on the Alley v. Jar...two totally different environments...and Grill is not inexpensive.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rftc2121

                Any hint of Le Bernardine in the menu at Ammo? I'm intrigued, having never been...

              2. So we ended up at Jar and it was fabulous! My future mother-in-law LOVED it. We spilt the crab/shrimp cakes to start ; they were filled with large chunks of crab and shrimp and delicious. I split the porterhouse with my fiance and MIL split a special steak (bone-in fillet) with her SO. We all shared potato gratin (a special) and sauteed pea tendrils w/ garlic. Everything was well prepared and very flavorful. The best part was dessert - MIL and I both got Mexican hot chocolate with a shot of tequlia on the side - OMG it was so good and we even asked for the recipe!!! Other desserts included banana cream pie and ice cream sundae.

                Thanks again for all the suggestions and comments. It turned out to be a perfect evening :-)

                4 Replies
                1. re: Obessed

                  Thanks for reporting back, and glad things worked out for you at Jar. It really is a great restaurant, and splitting the steaks and sharing other dishes certainly should have helped keep it within your budget. What did the tab come to for four, including drinks, tax, tip and valet?

                  1. re: nosh

                    I think the final bill was around $325 with tip. We had a great bottle of Spanish wine that the sommelier recommended and my fiance also had a glass of port with dessert. We lucked out an found street parking so didn't have to pay valet. I'll definitely go back there!!

                      1. re: Obessed

                        Very interesting. You seem extremely pleased with your evening at Jar. The bill was $325 all inclusive, for a party of four, or slightly over $80 per person. Your original request was for "nothing too crazy expensive (under $30 per entree)." Obviously the cost of a bottle of wine and a glass of port adds major variance to the equation. I'm just comparing against some of my own calculations, and I don't think I usually figure that my overall cost is going to be three times the price of the entree -- I figure if the entree comes with sides, it is more like double -- but your example indicates that if any wine or alcohol is involved, I'm probably underestimating. Very thought-provoking.